Thursday, March 26, 2009

A little bit of converting using Nik Software's Silver EFex Pro

Image copyright 2009 Byron O'Neal

I've been playing around with Silver Efex Pro the last few days, and I'm really impressed with the results so far. The best part about using this software is that you need not be a Photoshop whiz to quickly produce striking black and white images. 
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Combining two images in Photoshop CS3 using HDR Part 2- Orchid

Image copyright 2009 Byron O'Neal

So, today we are revisiting the possibilities of using the HDR Automation in Photoshop this time using three macro shots of the same orchid. 

Let's start with the image capture first. I was using the 105mm Nikkor Macro lens for all three pictures on a tripod. Set to Aperture priority, the first image was taken at f/4 focusing on the petals of the primary flower in order to minimize depth of field and reduce background clutter. The second was taken at F/14 to bring into focus the rest of the primary flower and to add some out of focus background detail. The third shot I dipped into the photographer's toolkit of the past and added a cheap UV filter, lightly coated with Vaseline to render the whole image soft and blurry. I've heard the argument that you can get this same effect in Photoshop by adding a Gaussian Blur layer. I like doing it in capture myself. My advice, try both and see what you like. Be aware that you will have to be rather quick if you are shooting outside as wind can create problems. Visualize what you want to do before shooting it.

In Photoshop CS3, I clicked on File/Automate/Merge to HDR and selected the three RAW images. Leaving the Auto Align Option ON, I hit OK and waited a bit for PS to combine the layers. I changed the bit depth to 16-bit/channel. I'm no Photoshop guru but if you leave it in 32-bit/channel you will loose the ability to make a few changes in the HDR processor. Don't forget to adjust the White Point Preview slider before you hit OK. Equalize Histogram and Highlight Compression won't do anything in the HDR processor here, I manipulated Local Adaptation and Exposure/Gamma to the way I liked the composite image the best. After hitting OK, at this point you're done with the HDR processor and back to normal old Photoshop. I duplicated three layers from the original and changed the first duplicated layer to Multiply. I turned the top two duplicated layers off so I could see what I was doing and moved the opacity slider back to about 20% on the Multiply layer. Make sure if you are following along here to rename the layers as you make adjustments so you won't get confused. I learned that one the hard way. The second duplicated layer I changed to Overlay, again adjusting the slider back to around 20%. Don't forget to turn the third layer off so you can see what you are doing. The third and topmost layer, I set to Soft Light and adjusted the slider back to around 20% again. These are totally up to you as to how much opacity you leave with each layer, beware blowing the gamut if you leave the slider too high. Click View/Gamut warning and leave it on. If you are seeing grey dots onscreen, you've gone too far. I added a Layers, Curves, Brightness/Contrast, Hue, and Saturation layer as well to round out the final image. 

Again, I'm no Photoshop expert but I hope seeing my workflow might help shed some light into how thing come together for this image. I like the end result of the image with its dreamy feel. Play around and see what you get.
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Combining two images in Photoshop CS3 using HDR

I'm finally back home from a week long commercial trip to St. Petersburg, Florida with 1,375 plus images to sort through for an art  renovation of the Downtown Hampton Inn & Suites. Whew! Apologies go out to my readership for not keeping the blog updated much while I was out of town, I'll be frequently updating this week as I go through the shots from the trip and sharing some of my favorites.

I came across an interesting article in the March/April issue of Photo Techniques Magazine that suggests different options for using the HDR Automation in Photoshop. It gave me a few ideas, and the image to the left is an experiment in combining two completely different images and the very funky result. The first shot was of two gulls trying to swoop in and steal fish scraps at the Fort De Soto Fishing Pier. The second, not that you could tell, is a shot of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge taken at night with the camera positioned on the steering wheel while traveling at 65 MPH. The potential for combining images in this way is endless and a quick trip to Barnes and Noble or Borders is well worth it to check out the article. It's a great tool for inspiration and reminded me that we live in a very exciting time for photography. 

If you just can't wait, the HDR feature is under File/Automate in Photoshop. A word of caution that will save you time with this type of converting, make sure that the pixel dimensions for the images are the same. 
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

On the Road in St. Petersburg, Florida

Day 1 - yesterday

Cased the Downtown with the Looper bus for only a quarter. Hit the Pier and chased a few pelicans then got on the pirate ship. Arrrghhh! Jumped on a boat that toured part of Tampa Bay and had a really cool dolphin encounter. I must have walked around seven miles trying to cover the plethora of historic stuff that's here. Got held up by the fence building going on for the Grand Prix in early April while trying to get from the Dali Museum back to the marina. Biggest thing I noticed is that after you have a child and are away from them, you notice kids more. They are everywhere.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blow- a unique new tabletop lamp design from Studio Italia

This unique new lamp design from Studio Italia has a halogen lighting unit inside a clear crystal dome that you focus by moving a small magnet on the exterior. I just wish it could have been an LED design. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Tasmanian take on graffiti

Not necessarily what we are accustomed to in the graffiti world, I came across this and loved it. I guess that is how they roll in Tasmania. 

Check out the photographer's link to buy a print for $28.50. That's a deal man!
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Writers Project - Image #7

Image copyright 2009 Byron O'Neal

I'm finally getting a chance to revisit the Writers Project that I've been working on for a little while now. I've been playing around with this Nik Software program Silver Efex Pro, and I'm really happy with the flexibility it is quickly adding to black and white conversions. 
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bay Area Graffiti - a book that chronicles the scene in the San Francisco Bay Area

This 208 page book covers the scene of the Bay area as shot by Steve Rotman. Casebound at $45.00 this is a must for any graffiti book collector. 

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Martin Wittfooth- animalia done right

Image copyright Martin Wittfooth

Wow! I came across Martin's work while perusing through Hi-Fructose magazine at B&N. I love this kind of atypical presentation of the animal world. It reminds me of a darker Tyson Grumm. I wish I could paint like this. Modern, American surrealism is in a class all by itself.
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Monday, March 9, 2009


Image copyright 2009 Byron O'Neal

It can be said that I have a weird fascination with all things squidlike. Come on some of them have three hearts, that's just cool. 
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Edge Art Now 2009 Mixed and New Media at IAO Gallery

I've got an upcoming show on my home turf for a change at IAO Gallery in Oklahoma City. Aegir and Heavy were both selected for the group show that is open to Oklahoma artists only. 

Opening Reception 
March 28 from 6:00-9:00PM

Show Runs
March 21st through April 11th
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Overlord - new to the Reflections series

Image copyright 2009 Byron O'Neal

I'm feeling a little sci-fi with this one. 
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gela Skins - the new perfect gift

If you have to buy a present for somebody between the ages of thirty-five and fifteen, go to Gela Skins and give them the gift of cool. They have skins for laptops, phones, gaming consoles, or buy an art print on earth friendly bamboo stock. 

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Selected for the March 2009 Online Exhibition at The House of Scratch

I have been selected to participate in the March show over at the House of Scratch along with a few other amazing artists:

The theme of their site is to promote outsiders art. Not normally a convention for the photographic medium, I'm trying to branch out a little more and expose my work to a different market. Show your support and vote for me to be selected as the artist of the month.
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